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Points to Ask Paralegal Degree or Certificate Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Globe AZ area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant aspects to consider also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let's take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Globe AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited programs.
What's the School's Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Globe AZ law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Globe AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary from state to state, it might be beneficial to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Arizona or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those colleges that are within the Globe AZ area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help reduce some of the cost, so don't forget to contact the school's financial aid department to find out what is offered in Globe AZ. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Globe AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you choose makes available that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.